Exuma Bahamas Wedding: Gina + Jamie
If you were hoping to find a typical wedding blog about how inspiring the design was and how the florals complimented every aspect of the venue, this one isn’t for you. If you were in search of a little fun in the sun (possibly a lot), good vibes, and tons of English accents all wrapped up in an adventurous love story, then you’re totally in the right place! In fact, I would say if I could sum up the special bond between Gina and Jamie in one word it would have to be adventure. They met by chance while Gina was bartending in New York. The yacht Jamie was working on at the time docked and from the first time they met, their connection began to blossom! Despite the inevitable long distance status their relationship would eventually be bound for, they found a way to make things work. To quote one of the best movies of my generation “Life finds a way.” (I can’t be the only Jurassic Park nerd) Gina soon completed the Maritime education necessary to find her way out on to the water with Jamie and they started searching for ships they could work on together. They eventually found a crew that was just the right fit! It probably sounds too good to be true, but these two started their journey of traveling across the world, so you could say, this is where the adventure begins!
How we made the connection with Gina and Jamie could also be another awesome example of fate! I met Gina back in college at The University of Tampa through a mutual friend who was her roommate at the time. Back then, you had to be in college to have a facebook account (uhhh….I know so old) and by way of mutual friends we became friends and have kept up on social media throughout the years. Once they started wedding planning, they knew they wanted to get married on the beautiful island of Exuma in the Bahamas. A native of England, Exuma is a place where Jamie has spent many years of his life and considered home. They had a vision for who they wanted to be there, and how they wanted the entire experience to be, now just to find someone to capture all the moments and beauty of what was sure to be an epic week! I shared a wedding album one night on social media and Gina commented something along the lines of “I wish you guys traveled, you’re exactly the style we’re looking for!”. We must have been thinking to ourselves, ‘don’t tempt us with a good time!’ lol. We reached out to Gina immediately and after talking to her about logistics, her and Jamie’s vision, as well as their wedding date, they decided to bring us along for the action!
By the time the week of the wedding had finally arrived, we had already been a part of our first out of the country destination wedding in Bermuda with our now close friends Sally & Bryan! The experience we gained from that first destination wedding really helped us plan ahead for Gina and Jamie’s and we were as confident as we were excited about our upcoming adventure! Once the plane finally touched down on the tarmac, we were soon greeted by a big smile and even bigger hug as Jamie picked us out of the line up! After barely getting settled in we would soon be off on our first excursion of the week to one of the most popular spots in Exuma, The Chat-N-Chill! We had previously googled top 10 things to do in Exuma before the trip and we were grateful to find out that just about every one of them was on the itinerary for the the week! The Chat-N-Chill is literally a slice of paradise that you have to take a boat to get to from the main island. This little bit of remoteness is one of the characteristics that make it extra special. It’s not enough to just fly in from another country, you have to know a local with a boat, rent a boat or take a water taxi to get there. That first day was the perfect way to unwind and for everyone to get to know each other. Friends and family alike partook in the unique offerings at Chat-N-Chill! Everyone laughed and talked over rum filled tropical drinks that were just as tasty as they were colorful and some even played with the stingrays! One of the local delicacies in this region is fresh conk salad. Everyone kept telling me “you have to try it!” so I figured when in Rome! I watched the entire process how the salad is made and I must say, the initial thought of it sounds like it would make your stomach a little queasy but the final product is outstanding. Fresh conk right out of the sea, fresh peppers, onions, and a mix of citrus juices comes together to make a meal that was literally the best I had while we were there!
Day 2 in Exuma was followed by some relaxation on the beach and a warm rehearsal in the evening with both sides of family and friends coming together. Stories were told, strangers became friends, and heartfelt speeches made for plenty of laughter and just enough happy tears!
The day of the wedding was definitely chill! I think by the time Sunday rolled around we were all on island time and the vibes were laid back. No stress, no hectic rush, no worry of running late, just a beautiful sense of everything is going to be perfect, and I have to say, it would be hard to argue that feeling. While we were all soaking up the sun and enjoying the wonderful experiences that Exuma had to offer, Jamie’s Dad Tony, an Exuma resident for 12 years, had been working tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure most (if not all) of the pieces to the puzzle were in place for this big day. One of those big pieces was setting up the ceremony site which was breathtaking as well as coordinating reception arrangements at his restaurant Catch a Fire. As the ceremony drew near, guests grew excited. The unique way in which the first look was set up would allow all of the guests to see Gina as she made her way to surprise Jamie on the shoreline. After her short walk through the soft sand, Jamie turned around and was soon wearing the same smile he had been wearing all weekend whenever he saw Gina (insert all the feels here!). The ceremony afterwards was beautiful and made for 2 significant laughing moments for everyone when some apparent miscommunications about the rings had taken place, so no rings, but hey, all you need is love right? Not to mention Gina's dad through the excitement of seeing her walk down the aisle...almost forgot to walk her down the aisle. Ahh, it really is the little moments :)
This is where the story of a wedding day would usually start getting wrapped up, but fortunately for everyone, Jamie and Gina had other plans! As if everyone had not had enough fun already, these two planned for a beautiful day out on the water for anybody who wanted to go! They had arranged with their friend Brendan, a local businessman and boat connoisseur to take us out on one of his boats, but not just any boat, a beautiful 50ft yacht of his named “Simply Irresponsible”. Some relaxed inside and recovered from the night before. Some jumped in the water and swam with the sea turtles. No matter where you ended up you were bound to have a good time, but in our opinion, the 2nd level deck was the place to be! From this birds eye view you could take in all of the beauty of the surrounding waters and islands while enjoying the warm ocean breeze. Definitely a hard day to beat.
Much like any destination wedding, eventually the reality of returning to your regular routine kicks in. I would say the hard part (if any) for us is not so much saying good bye to the situation, but saying good bye to the people. While we connect with brides and grooms several times before and after the wedding day, you connect with everyone during the journey on a destination wedding. Some you know will be familiar faces, but often times they are people you know you will likely never see again. You’ve all shared in something so special and that shared experience is something that will stay with you for a lifetime. We can’t begin to thank Gina and Jamie enough for allowing us to be a part of this truly amazing week with their family and friends! We will forever be grateful for this experience and we can’t wait to see where this new adventure they call marriage takes them next. Congrats and much love from Asheville!
Also, if you want to see an awesome feature by their officiant, Melinda Bernstein, click here!
-Joe & Jenny